Looking back – and forwards

Not much to say on the renovations this week – but then that’s great news!

Our four fledged offspring have, to our delight, come to North Wales along with Uncle Tim to celebrate Christmas with us.  We have eaten too much of the wrong types of foods and had the occasional tipple, but are otherwise emerging relatively unscathed from the celebrations.

Our holiday opening hours
Our holiday opening hours


We have kept the café open every day except Christmas Day, although we had a slight glitch today when the unexpected surge of interest over lunch time meant one group of walkers had to wait longer for their lunch than we would have wished and which we wholeheartedly regret.  We will be grateful when Jane returns from her well earned holiday!

Domestically, we enjoyed 4 days with the full family party of seven.  Yesterday, Tim and Mike visited Blaenau Ffestiniog for a trip on the railway…

The age of steam continues...
The age of steam continues…

… and today he departed for deepest darkest Devon, and tomorrow Will departs to return to his favourite big city of Sheffield.

Over the next few days, we will not be progressing the building works – but I will be drawing up my garden plans every moment I can find.

In the café, Welsh conversation may be available on Thursday afternoon (if anyone else arrives),  and then our next event is the band Jabberwocky on 7th January.


Feel free to book your tickets now – or reserve places for our next Quiz Night on Saturday 18th February.


Labyrinth progress to report

As we approach the Christmas holidays, our progress on the refurbishments might be thought to slacken, but I am happy to report that the last three days have been pretty busy.

Task one has been to decorate the Christmas tree which was heroically dragged into the house by Mike and Tim.  Unfortunately, the photos don’t really do it justice, but our seasonal hemlock is now liberally sprinkled with lights, baubles, tinsel and lametta.

It's beginning to look a lot like a Christmas tree
It’s beginning to look a lot like a Christmas tree

Task two has been the installation of a ‘draft’ labyrinth.  A group of labyrinth enthusiasts arrived this Tuesday to create a Chartres labyrinth from blocks and then walk it.  The weather forecast had been for showers but happily the skies remained clear during our activities.  Mike and I are very grateful for the hard work of Stuart, Vince, Chris and Heather along with that of Tomas, Adrian, Tim and Will alongside us to move the blocks to the lower level and then to lay them out.



..seems to be working so far...
..seems to be working so far…


..on your marks...
..making real progress now…

We plan to leave the blocks in this pattern until conditions are appropriate for us to fix these permanently in place and infill with a suitable material so that the labyrinth path becomes one height , making it more suitable for all-weather use.

All finished
All finished – for now…


and in case you want to see it without people


Task three was to finish the fire door installation.  Mike managed to finish the last little bits this afternoon, so we can now turn our attention to the Christmas tasks ahead.

You may not believe me, but….

we have had an unusual problem over the last few days and, as one who always plays her cards close to her chest, I thought I would share our ridiculous story with the world.

Mike installed the fire door on Friday (whilst I was at Welsh classes – Nadolig llawen to all), having trimmed what we thought was a suitable amount from the bottom of the door, and he was pleased with the accurate fit.  There are very strict rules about the gap allowed between a fire door and the surroundings, and Mike had got these right first time – yippee!  Only one tiny hiccough – when he rolled the coir matting back into place (having rolled this out of the way whilst fiddling with and fitting the door) the door couldn’t be opened properly due to the thickness of this matting. We really didn’t want to remove any more from the bottom of the door since it would then have too great a gap at the base once the door closed (as this sits behind the coir matting).  Cue much scratching of heads and feeble attempts to open the door with the expectation that this time, having changed nothing, it might inexplicably open smoothly.  Well, first we tried trimming the pile with hair clippers.  Result – coir matting simply compressed under the clippers.  Next, we tried scissors, which might have worked except the angle of the blades to the fibres was all wrong and we don’t have any of the scissor-type things with the handles higher than the blades.  Next we tried a scalpel to see if we could just chop the height away – no dice at all.  So in desperation we tried a router.  That had some effect, but tended to push too much pile out of the way rather than trim it off.  We then tried a belt sander.  Can you believe it?  A belt sander to lessen the pile.

Would you Adam and Eve it? Sanding the door mat?
Would you Adam and Eve it? Sanding the door mat?

Madness – and also (almost) completely ineffective.  So we had a quick consultation with Jane (the cook) and, having talked through the problem and bemoaned the lack of accessible advice on Google (one can only assume other folk do not have similar problems installing their fire doors) we stumbled on a possible solution.  And I am happy to report that, having put the power planer over the matting a few times, we have now trimmed a patch of the coir matting sufficiently that the door will close!

So whilst I feel totally daft having to report our unorthodox activities, I am pleased to report the fire door is in situ and working well.  Tim arrived for the Christmas break just as we finished all of this, so at least we didn’t have an audience to our weirdness.

Today’s story showcasing our move from balanced reasonableness to total absurdity is slightly different.  After returning from church, I persuaded Mike and Uncle Tim to frisk the grounds for a Christmas tree.  I should explain that we have a number of conifers growing on site which the forestry chap from Snowdonia National Park had asked us to remove because they are non-native species.  We have therefore decided to use one of these, whether or not it is a pine, for our ‘home’ Christmas tree this year.  We have a reasonable size Norway Spruce culled from the garden in the cafe, and I was expecting something similar but perhaps a little taller for the old manor part of the property.

The proud lumberjack with his haul...
The proud lumberjack with his haul…

So imagine my surprise when I walked into the hallway to find the hemlock (below) already erected

...and hoping this photo shows that it is tall enough to almost reach the ceiling above the stairs!
…and hoping this photo shows that it is tall enough to almost reach the ceiling above the stairs…


or maybe this one gives a better sense of size?
Does this one give a better sense of size?

I will try to put up a photo in a day or two, once we have finished trimming (as in really trimming, with secateurs and all) and then decorating it.  But this may take longer than we had originally planned!